photo by: Nick Krug
There are new athletic facilities coming to the Rock Chalk Park area in northwest Lawrence, but they might not be where you would think.
They are inside Rock Chalk’s new neighbor, the outpatient medical building at the LMH West Campus, which is just southwest of the University of Kansas’ sports facilities and the city of Lawrence’s indoor sports pavilion.
Users of the new medical building will find a turf field, a partial basketball court, a specially equipped swimming pool and several other high-tech facilities. The facilities are part of the OrthoKansas and LMH Health Therapy & Wellness clinics, and they all are part of a vision to make Lawrence a regional destination for sports medicine and other physical therapy services.
“We knew when we began planning that to successfully create this center we needed three things,” said Jared Abel, associate vice president of strategy and service for LMH Health. “A set of talented and highly trained surgeons, physicians and physicians’ assistants; a plan to create a one-of-a-kind experience; and the space to do these things.”
The new space includes multiple features geared toward helping athletes and others needing physical therapy or those simply wanting to improve their skills. They include:
• An agility turf to work with athletes on the surface they play on. Patients will be able to practice drills that feel familiar and like real life while helping the therapists see the patients in their environment. There is a net that comes down for patients to be able to practice kicking and hitting drills for even more real-life practice
• One-eighth of a basketball court, allowing athletes to practice layups and on-court drills
• Two running lanes for those needing help with running form, allowing therapists to provide real-time assessments
• An indoor pool with an underwater treadmill. This will allow therapists to provide video analysis while patients walk or run as well as offer aquatic therapy
• A motion analysis lab, showing athletes their body movements while running, biking, playing basketball and more
Jaye Cole, senior director of physical therapy/rehab, said that the new space will allow LMH Health to continue to grow the sports performance programs the organization began offering in 2015.
“The West facility takes what has already been an established program with therapy and sports performance at LMH Health and allows us to expand,” she said. “In the new space, we can offer new services, enhance services and build upon a foundation that we have grown so far. We want the public to know there are great assets available to them in this facility. These resources will provide an incredible patient experience, where we can do more, help more, all in a bigger space.”
About 16,000 square feet of the LMH West facility will be devoted to therapy services, enabling therapists to closely work with each patient, develop a rehab plan and find out which therapy works for each patient and their conditions.
“We have wonderful orthopedic therapists who also do sports medicine,” Cole said. “We now have a space that allows for therapy and OrthoKansas to better come together and bind forces to provide care for athletes of all ages and all levels. We have the technology to provide a level of medicine in a coordinated way and see people on the field, diagnose them quickly and have therapists there to respond immediately.”
The facility aims to serve a variety of patients. Abel said a new facility was needed to provide more space to accommodate all types of patients — from younger athletes to older people looking for hip and knee replacements.
“The West project allows us the opportunity to bring together clinics, a regional best in class therapy space, imaging and surgical services all under one roof,” Abel said. “This gives us the ability to serve patients better than we ever have before.”
The overall goal isn’t just to create a great space for sports medicine but really to create a best-in-class center for a variety of procedures related to bone, joint or musculoskeletal health.
“The move to West will positively reinforce the statement that we have lived by over the years,” said Dr. Douglass Stull, an orthopedic surgeon with OrthoKansas. “A place where at times we feel we are busting at the seams just got significantly larger with more technology and advancements to provide a better experience for our patients and better recruit physicians, surgeons and providers. By no means is West our finish line, but it is a monumental step in our vision becoming a reality.”
The facility, Stull said, was built with the patient in mind first. There were many conversations in the planning process about what would create the most convenient experience for patients as they walk through the facility.
“It isn’t just the facility that is state-of-the-art,” he said. “It is everything within it as well. The clinics are top-notch, as is radiology — having the ability to order a high-tech imaging study, then order a same-day surgery and walk upstairs right after to have it done. These technologies can be done all at one time, all in one space. This is the cutting edge of technology, and this is where we are in health care right now.”
Stull said it is exciting to be so close to Rock Chalk Park, Sports Pavilion Lawrence and the Lawrence trail system. If there is a delay in health care, there are locations close by to enjoy while you wait.
Stull said he’s even excited about some of the finer points of the building’s design and what it symbolizes.
“We were able to be involved in the design and meetings with architects,” he said. “The beams and glass signify a musculoskeletal architecture. It must be strong, yet the glass signifies that the musculoskeletal system can be fragile at times.”
Each time he walks into West, Stull feels inspired to deliver on LMH Health’s commitment to be a partner for lifelong health.
“I know the people that go there each day will be inspired,” he said, “but our patients are what this is all about. When they walk in those doors, we want them to feel inspired as well. When they face some of life’s most challenging moments, we are here and ready to serve them.”
— Jessica Brewer is social media and digital communication specialist at LMH Health, which is a major sponsor of the Lawrence Journal-World’s health section.
SPECIAL SECTION: LMH West
240,000 square feet. 3 floors. $101 million. Take a look inside a major health project in west Lawrence.
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• Private donors provide millions to LMH West project
LMH West special section (09-13-20)